John Ryle – First Bishop of Liverpool

John Ryle, who was appointed the first Bishop of Liverpool when the diocese was created in 1880, is buried in the churchyard at All Saints Church, Childwall.

Bishop of Liverpool

Ryle was the son of a banker from Henbury, near Macclesfield in Cheshire. He was born in 1816 and went to school at Eton, then university at Oxford. After becoming seriously ill with chest problems whilst studying, he turned to God and read the Bible daily.

The illness was the first incident that sent Ryle into a career with the church and the second was his father being declared bankrupt. This ended his ambitions of becoming a Member of Parliament and he instead took holy orders, becoming a curate at the parish church in Exbury, Hampshire in 1842. The following year he transferred to Winchester and went on to have positions in Suffolk in the 1860s then, Norfolk, Cambridge and Oxford in the 1870s.

Ryle developed a reputation for giving sermons that were straightforward and fair, communicating across all classes with ease. He even developed a following in Central America, where a Reform Church was established in Mexico after reading one of his religious publications.

Although he had a progressive career with the church, there was tragedy in Ryle’s personal life. By the time he was 45 years old he had been widowed twice and had four children. In 1861 he married his third wife Henrietta, who he remained together with for 28 years until her death in 1889.

Early in 1880 Ryle was appointed as Dean of Salisbury. However almost immediately he was put forward to be the first Bishop of Liverpool after the creation of the new See. Ryle felt he was too old but Prime Minister Lord Beaconsfield dismissed his concerns, telling him he was of strong health. On 11th June that year he was formally consecrated at a ceremony in York Minister.

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Ryle lived on the edge of the city centre at 19 Abercromby Square, formerly the home of a confederate supporter in the US Civil War. It had been bought by the Diocese and was as the Bishop’s Palace.

A big factor in Ryle’s appointment was his ability to speak in a language and tone that all classes could understand. This was his first appointment in a large urban area and the people of Liverpool soon took to him. He had a large frame and exuded an air of authority, but he was also softly spoken and saw his role as ensuring moral principles were adhered to. He soon set about organising the construction of churches across the city so that the message could be taken out to the people. He also called for local clergy to have more of an active role in the development of church policies.

As the 19th Century drew to a close Ryle began to suffer healthwise. His assistant, Bishop Royston, undertook his public engagements and it was announced that Ryle would formally retire on 1st March 1900. He moved to Lowestoft in Suffolk where he died three months later on 10th June. He was then interred at Childwall alongside his wife.





Sarsfield Memorials Liverpool – Home Visits

Sarsfield Memorials is Liverpool’s longest running family run memorial mason business, operating since 1947. Most of our work comes through personal recommendation and repeat orders, and we believe that our policy of coming to you for the initial discussion on your requirements is a key reason for this.

Liverpool Memorial Masons Home Visits

We do not believe in the hard sell. We feel that you coming to our workshop to view samples only puts you under pressure to leave once an order has been placed. Choosing  a memorial for your loved one’s grave is a decision that will affect your family for generations. As such you need to make it at your pace and when you are comfortable doing so.

At Sarsfield we know that you will most likely be far more comfortable choosing the right memorial in the comfort of your own home. Sat in your favourite armchair with a cup of tea, you’ll be able to browse through our brochure, view inscription samples and  ask any questions without feeling any pressure. If you can come to a decision then, we can provide a written quote within 48 hours but if you need more time to think or consult others, then you can contact us when you are ready.

Our experience shows that customers can understand far better what their memorial requirements are in a place where they are at ease, not in a workshop or sales office. However, we don’t limit visits to the home. We are happy to come and see you wherever is convenient for you. If you are more settled in your local pub, coffee shop, community centre or even your workplace, we will see you there. If these locations make you feel more relaxed and allow others involved in the selection process to meet us too, then we are happy to come there.

Perhaps the most unusual place we have seen somebody in recent months was their local travel agents where they were booking a holiday. Their thinking was once the memorial was sorted, they then knew how much was left over for a break (or perhaps it was the other way around!). We have also met a family in a car park with a view of the River Mersey because this was where they used to sit in the car with a picnic, watching the boats on the river and sharing their memories.

The simple message from Sarsfield Memorials is that wherever you are within thirty miles of Liverpool city centre, we will come and see you. If you would like to arrange a visit please contact us.


Christmas is Coming

There are now less than one hundred days to go until Christmas. It will be here much sooner than you think. If you are looking to have a memorial installed by then, have remedial work done or use our Christmas grave visits services, you need to get your orders in quickly.

Christmas Grave Visits

For new memorials, standard designs take about six weeks from enquiry to installation, but bespoke ones can take three months, possibly longer.  The process can be delayed further in winter months though by wet and windy weather, snow or frost. The same goes for additional inscriptions or memorial cleaning. Christmas is often the first time family members visit a grave together, so to avoid disappointment please place your order soon as our diary is filling up fast.

As usual, we will be offering a grave visiting service for those who are unable to get to their loved one’s resting place if it is in Liverpool, Knowsley or south Sefton. Whether this is due to living away from the area, disability or the weather, we can lay a holly wreath for you or leave other flowers of your choice. We will also ensure the area around the grave is tidy, removing any litter or old flowers and clean the vase.

Our cemetery visits for Christmas grave tending take place in the week up to Christmas Eve. After the visit has been completed we will send you a photograph of the grave by email or post.

In partnership with Hunter’s Flowers, we can supply bespoke rustic grave pots for Christmas. The price of these starts at just £7 and they also supply fresh and artificial flower arrangements. If you are interested in one of these or our other seasonal services, or are hoping to have a memorial installed or restored before Christmas, please contact us for a free no obligation quote.


Graves of St Peter’s Church Woolton

St Peter’s Church Woolton,  Liverpool is visited by scores of Beatles fans every day to see the grave of Eleanor Rigby. It is also the final resting place of former Liverpool FC manager Bob Paisley, the only British boss to win three European Cups. In addition to these two notable interments, there are many more worth paying respects to as well.

St Peters Church WooltonThe original St Peter’s Church was built in 1826 using sandstone from a local quarry. It sat 200 but by the 1880s it was far too small for the growing Woolton population. The new 500 capacity church was opened in October 1887 and its ninety feet tower is the highest point in Liverpool.

The grave that most people come to see is that of Eleanor Rigby, who died in 1939 at the age of 44 in the same house in which she was born in nearby Vale Road. Eleanor was a hospital worker and the granddaughter of a local stonemason. When asked in 1984 if the gravestone was an inspiration for the Beatles song of the same name, Paul McCartney responded that it wasn’t, but as he had cut through the cemetery many times with John Lennon it may well have been in his subconscious.

Bob Paisley’s grave is a very humble one, containing the inscription ‘He remained an ordinary man amid extraordinary achievements’. Paisley died of Alzheimer’s Disease in 1996 and buried alongside him is his devoted wife Jessie, who passed away in 2012. Paisley’s son Graham is the present verger of the church.

In the far left corner of the older section of the churchyard is the grave of a hero from the Crimean War. William Sewell suffered a serious head wound during the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava in 1854 and was medically discharged from the army aged just 23. He took a job as a coachman for the Earle family and remained with them for forty years, working for them at Spekelands in Edge Hill and then Allerton Hall. Sewell, who was living in Rose Lane when he died in 1910, is buried in the grave alongside his wife two of his three children.

Members of Sewell’s employers, the Earle family are buried in St Peters Church Woolton too. Sir Hardman Earle, who died aged 84 in 1877, was a director of the London & North Western Railway Company and Justice of the Peace. His eldest son Sir Thomas Earle was Mayor of Liverpool in 1853. He died in 1900 at the age of 77 and was also buried in the churchyard. The Earle family seat, Allerton Hall, is now a pub and restaurant.


Cremated Remains Plots Are Cheaper Long Term

Around three quarters of funerals in the United Kingdom nowadays involve a cremation rather than burial. This compares to just a third sixty years ago. However, along with this move towards cremation, there is also an increasing trend for families to inter their loved ones ashes rather than have them scattered at a favourite spot.

cremated remains plots

It is now common in cemeteries to see whole sections that are only for cemated remains. Unlike with regular burials, urns can be interred at any time after death so families have time on their side to decide on what is the right option. There is no reason either why some ashes cannot be scattered at a special place, with the remainder being interred in a cemetery. By adding a memorial, it provides somewhere permanent to visit and place flowers and have moments of reflection.

Quite often families have scattered but purchase a colonnade niche as somewhere to go and remember them. At Anfield Cemetery for example, colonnade niches can be bought where a memorial plaque can be placed, behind which caskets can also be stored if the family wishes.

In the longer run, buying a plot for the interment of cremated remains can be cheaper than colonnade niches that can often be seen at crematoria. The niches have to be renewed every five however at the cost of £229 (as at August 2018), or every ten years for £456. When you compare that to the cost of £632 for a cremated remains plot that is yours for 75 years, in which up to four urns can be interred, the niches are only cheaper in the shorter term.

Cremated remains plots are not limited to just having a simple headstone installed as a memorial, although its height is restricted to three feet six inches. They retain the scope to have kerbsets and ornaments too and if you are transferring to a plot from a colonnade niche, the original plaque can be added to it if you wish.This provides a spot to reflect with family members inscribed onto a headstone even if the ashes are no interred there.

Three of Liverpool City Council’s six cemeteries – Allerton Anfield and Kirkdale, offer plots that are solely for cremated remains. They provide a place where you can remember your loved one that you can develop to your specifications within their guidelines, that is also of low maintenance.  Sarsfield Memorials provide a range of memorial options for cremated remains plot. If you are considering such a memorial, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free no obligation quote.

Headstone Refurbishment

At Sarsfield Memorials headstone refurbishment – bringing worn memorials back to how they looked originally – is just as rewarding for us and our customers as providing new ones.

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Headstones are made from resilient durable materials. When they look like they could do with some tender loving care, more often than not the foundation and material is sound enough, meaning all that is needed is a good clean by jetwashing then applying chemicals. With some materials, this will involve removing a very thin layer of the headstone to make it as good as new again.

Pictured on the left is a headstone that was underneath trees that has been restored to as good as new. This work has been done on behalf of a local convent.

Depending on the location of the memorial in relation to others nearby, we may be able to do the cleaning at the cemetery but otherwise it is done back at the workshop. There are also occasions where some more re-anchoring may be required to meet modern specifications.

In addition to the cleaning, which is done with great care to avoid any lasting damage to the material, we can also restore your headstone by cutting the lettering deeper or adding new ones if they were originally done that way. An example when this is needed is with a material that has needed sanding, meaning the lead letters may have loosened.

As part of the headstone refurbishment, we can also tidy up the area around any kerbsets or edging stones if needed. This may involve adding a concrete base, which is standard with new installations nowadays, so that the kerbset can not sink. Alternatively, if it is a grave that is not tended to as frequently as when first installed, then it may be more feasible to remove any sunken sets or stones altogether, tidy up the weeds and plant grass seeds.

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An example of removing stones is shown here too on the right.In this case the family live abroad and only visit every couple of years. By removing the stones, the local authority now have responsibility for the area in front of the memorial and there is no risk of it becoming overrun with weeds.

A good addition to a refurbished memorial is an artificial flower arrangement. We currently supply these at a cost of £8 each to any customer who has work on a grave done with us.

If you are interested in headstone refurbishment, please contact us to discuss your requirements. We will be happy to visit the grave and carry out a full assessment and advise of the options and provide you with a free no obligation quote.


Kirkdale Cemetery War Graves

There are Commonwealth War Graves Commission graves from the First World War located in all six of Liverpool’s local authority cemeteries. However due to its proximity hospitals and the fact that Liverpool was a major port for the embarkation of troops during the First World War, Kirkdale Cemetery war graves are far more varied when it comes to nationality than others in the city.

Kirkdale Cemetery War Graves

Of the 397 burials from the First World War in Kirkdale Cemetery, over a quarter are Canadian servicemen. This is due to a Canadian hospital opening in Westminster Road in 1917, for the treatment of sick/injured servicemen returning from Salonika in Greece.

A large number of the the Candian servicemen died in 1919, many from the Spanish Flu epidemic. Due to the sheer number of troops in Europe that had been brought over a four year period, when the war ended there were literally not enough vessels to take them home, so many were staying awaiting transfer back and got sick. Some of the servicemen were from the Canadian Pacific Railway and their main role was railway maintenance. Amongst other regiments/battalions were Pioneers, who were repairing infrastructure/equipment, and and Infantry.

There are six New Zealand servicemen buried at Kirkdale Cemetery. One of these is Joseph Simotich. who was raised in Liverpool but emigrated in 1913 to live with an aunt and work on a farm in Rotorua. In 1917 he enlisted with the Otago Regiment of  the New ZealKirkdale Cemetery War Gravesand Reinforcements and sailed for Liverpool on board the Maunganiu, arriving on 17th January 1918. Sadly he had caught disease on the ship and died in the Northern Hospital just three days after arrival.

Just a couple of plots from Simotich is the grave of an indigenous Maori serviceman, Rangitauwira Wiremu, a married farmer. He was in the Maori Pioneer Battalion, whose main role was intended to be  construction and engineering tasks, but changed to providing reinforcements for killed and injured troops. Wiremu enlisted in February 1918, sailing on the Ulimaora but getting sick on the voyage. The vessel arrived in Liverpool on 29th March but he died just two days later.  

Five Australian servicemen are buried at Kirkdale, two each from the Infantry and Engineers, and one munitions worker. There are also two members of the Belgian army who died from wounds in November 1914, having been transferred to Liverpool for treatment. Their burials were attended by the Belgian consul and their coffins were draped in their country’s flag and had their helmets placed on them.

The non British burials from the First World War at Kirkdale Cemetery are completed by the graves of Indian and Russian soldiers. John Brewer of the Indian Army Reserve of officers died in November 1918 and Russian naval seaman Morosoff died in May 1917 while his vessel the Varyag was being overhauled at Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead.



A Monumental Mason in Seventy Years Ago

Last month Ursula Sarsfield was meeting a customer in Vauxhall in North Liverpool. She was astonished to be introduced to the clients neighbour who told Ursula she remembered her grandfather James, a monumental mason who founded Sarsfield Memorials in 1947.

The lady recalled hoBlack and white photo of a smart man from the 1950'sw as a child seventy years ago James Sarsfield would drive her and her friends around the block in his car, she had really happy memories of a great man, who she recalled was ‘dead posh but lovely’. For Ursula, who now heads Liverpool’s longest running family run masons, it was a special moment to hear such memories from someone who remembered her grandfather so well. It also got her thinking about how different the working day was of a mason back then compared to now.

One of the biggest differences is how contact is made with customers nowadays. Back in James’s day, there was no internet and very few people had telephones. As such much more business was done face to face or by letter. Nowadays Ursula will always seek to meet the customer face to face to have that personal touch, but after that initial meeting much work is done by phone or email and queries can be resolved a lot more quickly than seventy years ago when letters took a day or two to arrive. Both Ursula and her grandfather have one thing in common when dealing with customers and that is the ability to empathise with, sympathise with and understand their wishes at such a difficult time.

Ursula and James both sought to provide a memorial that would be a lasting tribute to customers loved ones. Seventy years apart though the types of memorial differ in part due to changing perceptions of death and cemeteries. Whereas James was providing much more solemn headstones which were often carved marble, Ursula is mainly using polished granite and the memorial wording is not as formal, also providing images and photoplaques especially for children and babies memorials. The relaxation of cemetery rules and a move towards feelings that memorials are where life should be commemorated rather than death be mourned is in part behind this.

Seventy years ago advertisements were placed in newspapers to attract customer, whereas nowadays the internet is the primary advertising tool for Sarsfield’s as well as recommendations. The world wide web has also allowed Ursula to attract customers from all over the world, with many getting in touch from places such as Australia and Canada asking for restoration or renewal of ancestors headstones. One thing that has not changed however, is the number of customers who come through personal recommendation due to the high quality of service we have always striven to achieve.

When it comes to actually shaping the memorial, there are huge differences nowadays to when James started the company. Memorials where all hand carved James’ son Terry (Ursula’s father) had to serve an apprenticeship at Carrara in Italy before he joined the family business. There, at the home of the famous Carrara marble, he studied all aspects of stonemasonry and traditional carving. Today there are more advanced cutting techniques and laser etching, which didn’t come into being for the memorial business until the 1990s. There are occasions though with certain materials and matching additional inscriptions where only the hand carvedblack and white photo of grand daughter of founder of business method can be used and it remains a skill that Sarsfield’s still use today when required.

When comparing the running of Sarsfield Memorials today to how her grandfather would have done seventy years ago, Ursula sees many changes but many similarities. One of the big advances is from using a horse and cart to transport the memorials to the cemetery. Sarsfield’s now use a motorised van and the Health and Safety of both the mason and fixing of memorials is paramount. Sarsfield’s believe in keeping traditional standards around so they still offer raised lead letters, hand cut letters to more modern sandblasted letters. Ursula is proud to be running Liverpool’s oldest family run monumental mason business and wonders if any of today’s customers will remember her in seventy years?


Celtic Cross Memorials


Some of the grandest monuments in some of Liverpool’s cemeteries for example are Celtic Cross memorials of the 19th Century. One is in Toxteth Park Cemetery marking the grave of shipping merchant Samuel Graves, Liverpool’s Mayor in 1861 and later representing the as a Member of Parliament.

Nowadays, monuments of the size of Samuel Graves’s would be prohibitively expensive for many people, or exceed local authority guidelines on memorial size. However there are a number of options available if you would like a Celtic cross memorial that remembers your loved ones spiritual beliefs and Irish, Scottish or Welsh roots.

An integral part of Celtic Cross memorials is the Celtic knot symbol. This represents life being  part of a uninterrupted, infinite timeless cycle, the rebirth of tCeltic Cross Memorialshe spirit into the next world. The circle that connects the four pieces of the cross indicates eternity.

The Celtic Cross can form part of the memorial, not all of it. Recently Sarsfield Memorials have completed a Sarsfield have recently completed a hand carved Celtic Cross and added it to a black granite headstone, which we also textured around the edge and base (right image).

Sarsfield Memorials is Liverpool’s oldest family run monumental mason and  over the years we have provided a large number of Celtic Cross memorials. Advances in technology now mean that there is Celtic Cross Memorialsa much wider scope and custom designs are far more straightforward to produce.  An example is on the image below left, a two plate memorial we did in September 2017. One plate has a Celtic Cross carved onto it and the other with lettering. Celtic crosses don’t have to be carved, they can be laser etched as well in some circumstances.

If you would like to discuss a having a Celtic Cross memorial for your loved one’s grave, whether it be one of our standard designs or a bespoke one, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss requirements.


Ogee Headstones Special Offer May 2018

Ogee headstones are amongst the most popular designs for memorials today due their size, low maintenance and easy customisation.

Falling well within the size guidelines that many cemeteries now implement ogee headstones are made of polished black granite. This material is extremely durable against the elements and needs very little cleaning.

All Polished Ogee head stone

The shape of ogee headstones, which have a curve at the top, makes them suitable for verses and epitaphs of varying length. When made of black granite, both gold and silver lettering works just as well.

Ogee headstones are also suitable for photo plaques, keeping the memory of your loved one alive or laser etched images, whether they be of  a religious nature or a reflection of the deceased’s career or favourite pastime.

For the month of May 2018 Sarsfield Memorials, Liverpool’s oldest family run monumental masons, are running an offer on ogee headstones . For just £600 we are offering a polished black granite ogee headstone, the dimensions of which are 27 inches high, 21 inches wide and 3 inches thick. The base is 24 inches wide, 12 inches front to back, 3 inches thick, 2.6 inches high and contains one flower container.

The £600 cost for this special offer includes 80 letters, fixing to NAMM standards and VAT. Cemetery fees, which vary between local authorities, are extra. There is also an additional cost for any extras such as photo plaques, images or extra lettering.

For the month of May 2018 Sarsfield are also offering 10% off all memorial cleaning services. Now spring is well and truly here, it is the ideal time to have your memorial restored to pristine condition.

If you would like to speak to somebody regarding the ogee headstones offer, or make use of our 10% off headstone cleaning, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements. Please note that these offers will not apply from 1st June 2018.